Council of Europe seeks ban on circumcision without ‘requisite skill’


(JTA) — The Council of Europe recommended banning circumcision except when performed by “a person with the requisite training and skill.”

The resolution was passed Wednesday by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, a pan-European intergovernmental organization based in Strasbourg, France, unrelated to the European Union, with no executive powers.

Resolution 2076, titled “Freedom of religion and living together in a democratic society,” recommends “that member states provide for ritual circumcision of children not to be allowed” unless performed by a person meeting the requirements and “in appropriate medical and health conditions.” It further recommended parents be informed of medical risks connected to the procedure. The text does not specify what should be considered requisite training.

The resolution’s text referred readers to a resolution the assembly adopted in 2013 titled “Children’s right to physical integrity,” which called the non-medical circumcision of underage boys a “violation of the physical integrity of children.” The 2013 document triggered harsh condemnations by Jewish and Muslim leaders.

The resolution approved Wednesday also described circumcision as one of “religious practices [that] remain controversial within national communities” and that may “provoke tensions.“

Ofer Aderet, a Haaretz reporter who has covered the circumcision controversy in Europe, said the latest resolution signaled a retreat for those seeking a ban on the practice.

“I believe it’s a retreat from the previous resolution,” Aderet told JTA, “because in 2013, circumcision was cast in a negative light along with a string of horrific practices like female genital mutilation whereas the new resolution speaks of circumcision as part of freedom of worship, which needs to be preserved.”

Resolution 2076 passed with a majority of 68 supporters, six opposed and eight abstentions. Among the supporters were seven Turkish delegates. There was one Turkish opponent from the hardline Nationalist Movement Party.

Recommended from JTA